02 July 2009

Operation Khanjar

Marines from 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 3, Marine Expeditionary Brigade-Afghanistan, prepare to board a UH-60L Black Hawk helicopter, July 2, during the launching of Operation Khanjar. Nearly 4,000 Marines and Sailors from Regimental Combat Team 3, Combat Logistics Regiment 2 and the MEB-Afghanistan Command Element constitute the bulk of the U.S. forces conducting this operation, along with approximately 650 Afghan national army and Afghan national police forces.

CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan, July 2 -- Thousands of U.S. Marines descended upon the volatile Helmand River valley in helicopters and armored convoys early Thursday, mounting an operation that represents the first large-scale test of the U.S. military's new counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan.

The operation will involve about 4,000 troops from the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, which was dispatched to Afghanistan this year by President Obama to combat a growing Taliban insurgency in Helmand and other southern provinces. The Marines, along with an Army brigade that is scheduled to arrive later this summer, plan to push into pockets of the country where NATO forces have not had a presence. In many of those areas, the Taliban has evicted local police and government officials and taken power.

Once Marine units arrive in their designated towns and villages, they have been instructed to build and live in small outposts among the local population. The brigade's commander, Brig. Gen. Lawrence D. Nicholson, said his Marines will focus their efforts on protecting civilians from the Taliban and on restoring Afghan government services, instead of mounting a series of hunt-and-kill missions against the insurgents.

Godspeed, Marines.

No comments: